Yes, we have no bananas…

…except we do. We have several nice firm yellow ones, but we also had three very, very brown ones.

Not only that but we had a glut of yoghurts… I went shopping on Wednesday, but forgot to pick up Mr FD’s vanilla bifidus yoghurts that he likes to have with his breakfast. Cue for complaints from said Mr FD. So on Friday I went to Carrefour and got him 8 to keep him going. Unfortunately, he also bought 4  for himself (Apparently we’d both said we’d buy them but neither of us really “clocked” what the other was saying!!)

So there was 14 vanilla yoghurts in the fridge…(there were two remaining from last week’s shop)

So I decided to make banana yoghurt muffins. I found an easy recipe and made them

  • 200g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 100 g yoghurt
  • 100 ml neutral oil
  • 125g sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 bananas
  • Vanilla essence

I actually used 75g sugar and 2 tsp honey, 125 g yoghurt (the size of the pot) and 3 bananas. I needed a tad more flour to make a soft dropping consistency (oh, how that expression used to make us smirk when our domestic science teacher was demonstrating how to make a chocolate cake! Dropping! Brown stuff! Snigger!!)

Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Mash/ whisk the rest together. Stir gently into the dry ingredients, making sure it is all incorporated.

Put into muffin trays. I’d run out of cake cases, so improvised with squares of greaseproof paper, which worked okay.

I then sprinkled some seeds and a bit more brown sugar on the top. Put in oven at 175° until golden brown and no longer “singing” to you (the crackling that uncooked cakes make when you listen to them)

They turned out really nice and light. I don’t know how long they’ll stay fresh for, so I may try freezing some.

A week in Lol Cats…

Inspired by Kezzie, I thought I’d let you in on my week – what did I do? Actually not much – her account is much more interesting!

On Monday I had my last group lesson with the Chambre de Metier – this group has been nice to work with, but a bit difficult because the levels weren’t equal – two of the four students were higher level than the others. Still, we managed! Because of the regulations related to Covid-19, everyone wore masks in the public areas of the language school, but in the classrooms we just sat a metre (or more) apart, and used hand sanitizer. We reviewed the “be + going to + verb” structure for talking about the future, had a quick whip through the first conditional, and reviewed the content of the course. We also ate homemade scones and redcurrant jelly at coffee break time – I’d said I would bring them in.

As I was fasting I didn’t have much lunch (I’m doing the 5:2 eating plan) – especially as I’d had a scone! Then I packed up and walked to the other Language school where I work for my other student. It was his last lesson too, so I reviewed the tenses we’d looked at with him, and talked about what he might do to continue improving. He knows the grammar rules, but just doesn’t ake much effort to apply them!

I drove home via B&M Home Bargains, where I bought some puppy training pads (for the Cats who Piss N’importe Où) and a few other bits and bobs. Dinner was a fairly unexciting vegetable-and-chicken stirfry. The evening brought about The Crown on Netflix.

Tuesday saw me driving to Clermont again – annoyingly just for one lesson, but it was with a new student, so I felt I couldn’t really cancel! She was really nice – a reasonable level, and willing to talk! I think I shall enjoy teaching her. I completed some admin work and then walked into the town centre to book an opthalmologist appointment – for next January! – and a podologist appointment – for next Tuesday! I moseyed around the shops, and then made for home.

I called in at another student’s home, as she was willing to help me sort out some paperwork and check I had all the papers required for a company I work for. Home by 17.00 so I squeezed in an episode of “Outlander” – I read the books in this series ages ago, and then found it on Netflix. I am enjoying it.

Little quiches, salad and potatoes for dinner and then we watched more of The Crown…

I had a lesson in Roanne today – just one, but also I do the shopping then, so it’s not a journey just for a 1.5 hour lesson. Before leaving I checked I had planned Yvalda’s lesson, and I also planned the week’s menu and wrote the shopping list. Then I noticed the time and had to hurry to get there on time!

After a quick picnic lunch in a nearby park, I went to Lidl and then to a smaller Carrefour (not a hypermarket). It was getting rather warm so I was glad to remove my mask when I got back to the car. I fully understand and support the wearing of masks, but in warm weather I find them stifling…It was about 30/35° today. When I got home I unloaded the car, unpacked the shopping and then collapsed on the sofa with a cold drink. And “Outlander”. I poached some apricots that were getting a bit old in a honey and vanilla syrup to have with yoghurt.

Chorizo sausages, Jamie Oliver spelt-and-other-grain mix and green beans for tea. And then guess what we watched! My MiL phoned too – she’s a bit depressed at the moment, having gone through confinement alone, she is now suffering from vertigo. It’s not much fun for her.

Thursday already!! In the morning I had adminny things to do – papers to finalise, scan and print, cheques to send, bills to complete, postcards to write and send. The morning went by quickly, with Friend Alison calling by for a cold drink in the courtyard at about 11.00.

I had a 2 hour lesson by computer – it usually goes by quickly as Audrey is happy to talk, and is a good level. We discussed whether companies should have a quota system for employing women. We also talked about her children and what they were doing now.

Then it was time to chase down Millie – she should have gone to the Vet ith Bib last week, but she’d seen the basket and gone into deep hiding. This time I had to get her…I did, after about 10 minutes stalking, which involved pulling out the bed, some rude words, some pitiful crying and finally mute despair. She was only going for her injections!! She “sang” all the way there, but gave me the frosty silent treatment on the way back.

Thursday is another fasting day so it was big chicken salad with the leftover spelt from yesterday. I think we tried watching something different tonight, and gave “Stranger Things” a go. It has potential I think…

It was “Yay, it’s Friday” day as I had already decided that I was not going to work today. It was ridiculously hot too. Mr FD said that in Roanne the car registered 43°C – up here I’m guessing it was high 30s and I Don’t Do Heat. So I watched “Outlander”, I did a bit of admin that I really couldn’t leave any longer, went to the chemist to pick up my prescription, watched “Outlander”; made a birthday card for our friend Louis, watched “Outlander” (Yes, I am enjoying it!!) and had a snooze read!!

Dinner was baked salmon with salsa verde, rice and green beans. And poached apricots. Then The Crown. Yes, I think I did watch a bit too much TV today, but it was really too hot to do very much at all.

On Saturday morning, Mr FD pruned (nearly decimated) the elder tree outside – revealing an intricately made sparrows’ nest in the process, which cleverly entwined plastic with natural items. It was empty, thankfully, as the babies had fledged. I cleaned the kitchen and living room. Then we went round to Louis’ to drop off the card. On the way back we noticed that the restaurant next door is having a tapas evening today (Sunday) with a free glass of sangria for anyone sporting red accessories. We checked to see if Friend Cathy wanted to come, and then booked.

The afternoon was rather lazy, finishing off the various tasks that we’d had to curtail to go to see Louis, and sitting in front of the fans exclaiming “Bof! It’s hot!” At about 17.30 Friend Cathy came down for aperos. Dinner was pork, chestnut and mushroom sausage rolls, with green bean salad and rice salad (using yesterday’s leftovers. I went to feed the Poor Cats before dinner – they were happy to see me. Evening entertainment included the end of the FA cup final and Pointless Celebrities.

This morning it was our Zoom service – I was hosting it, and Bib “helped” a little, making various things flash up on screen when not required, but it went reasonably well.

And now it’s Sunday afternoon and I feel in need of a zizz before we go all Spanish this evening at the Tapas event.

Witterings (mostly about work)

Hi.

Not sure what to write about but I feel I should pop in…

It’s a frustrating day – I had two lessons planned – both by computer. The first one, this morning, was a failure as the connection was bad and kept cutting out. After 20 minutes we gave up and rescheduled. My student is a really low level, and it would be hard enough face to face. By computer it’s difficult and with a flakey internet connection it’s nigh-on impossible!

Then half an hour before my second lesson, I got a text saying she couldn’t make it because of an unplanned event. At least I get paid for that one – but I’m left feeling like I’ve been marking time today. That’s actually not true, as I spent the morning doing admin tasks that needed doing, and actually, I could get on and do my ironing this afternoon, but it just feels like a day that went wrong.

I’m coming to a dry period with work – most of my Wednesday students finish for the summer, as they’re mostly school students. Of the two that aren’t school students, one has a boat on the Med, and so dissappears for weeks away on the boa. The other still wants lessons through summer, but as she looks after grandchildren and also goes away, I may find that being sporadic. I’ve come to the end of all but 4 of my contracts with one language centre (and two of those will finish by the end of July), and with the other Language Centre, I have about three or four students by computer plus one group who will finish in July too.

Happily, Mr FD’s job, and money saved during lockdown will keep us afloat. Also I should get the full, one-off payment for one course of lessons by the end of July which will be over 1,000€. So I’m not worried about money. Things are always light during July/August/beginning of September and they should pick up when the schools go back.

I’ve made some cards recently – I took photos, but don’t seem to be able to put them on my computer to show you. Frustrating. They were for the three young men that I’ve been teaching who are off to university/ further education in September. I’ll have to try to find some new students to take their places.

I’ve been taking face to face lessons for about a month now – at Bonjour World, the Covid-19 precautions are fairly thorough, with masks being worn in public areas, hand sanitiser and cleaning spray in all rooms, and social distancing (1m) in the classrooms. At Metaform, I’ve been mostly alone in the satellite office – so again, social distancing and frequent hand gelling have been the order of the day. My private students have been less careful – I try to keep 1m apart, but it’s not always easy. The number of cases in our area is low, so I’m not too worried, but I’m still mostly avoiding crowded places, except when it’s unavoidable. Or it’s Noz. But then I wear a mask and try to remember to hand sanitize on leaving (but I’m not very good at remembering!)

Lord, this is a boring post.

I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve all dropped off into a snoring pile of readers like the cats above!

Any Questions…

The writer of the blog A New Life in Lillewhich I enjoy reading, was offered one of those awards that come wioth questions to answer, which he passed on to his readers. As I am devoid of inspiration, but have time to write a blog post, I thought I’d answer them. I think I’ll do it in two halves though (giving me another blog post from it!!)

Why did you start your blog? At the time, a lot of people from Ship of Fools (a website I enjoy) were blogging, using a site set up (I think) by one of the moderators. I enjoy writing, and I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon. You can read some of the posts if you go to the section “Some dregs from the other Teapot” up above. My first blog post was on August 24th 2009, and I managed to make a mess up of that first one what with usernames and so forth.

And so it has continued – sometimes with more inspiration than other times, but I enjoy blogging. I see it almost as my “scrapbooks” for the internet age. When I was at University I kept physical scrapbooks, with things stuck in, and the odd journal type entry. This is the updated version of that, I suppose, although this one rarely (if ever!) has my innermost secrets in.

What do you enjoy most about blogging? It has to be the interaction with other bloggers! I love getting comments, and if a new person comments I’ll go to their blog, if I can, to read what they’re up to. If it’s “my kind of blog” then I’ll add them to my bookmarked blogs. I try to comment too, but I’m less good at doing that . I especially appreciated the support from other bloggers, and readers, through my cancer treatment.

Getting “likes” doesn’t mean much, as that’s too easy to do & therefore doesn’t mean much, and I feel that it’s mostly done to get “likes” back. I was horrified when I followed one “like” back to its source and found a conspiracy theory site with disinformation about Covid-19 on it. If I could have taken down the “like”, I would have!

But the writing itself is also a pleasure. I like writing, I love words, and so it’s not a chore to blog. It might be a chore to read my blog however!!

Which is your favourite blog post you’ve written? I really don’t know!! I enjoy reading back over posts, but I don’t really have a favourite one.

Maybe this one written after a trip to the UK is special, because it reminds me of what a joyful weekend I had, even in the midst of cancer

What do you hope the world will learn from the coronavirus? To be more kind, to be more thoughtful and to slow down. The most important things are not to do with money.

Also that the Tory government shafts the ordinary people every step of the way.

(Sorry, is that a bit political?!)

If you could live anywhere, where would it be and why? Again, really difficult to answer. We are happy here in St Just, and will probably stay here…but, for the sake of argument, somewhere a little further south, on one level, traditional exterior but modernised interior, with an infinity pool overlooking mountains & trees…but not far from a village with all amenities. Not much garden (or garden, with a gardener) but room for a donkey and a few goats. And cats too.

Yes, that’ll do!

 

Pause.

Today is a fast day (we’re back on the 5:2 regime, after I was told my cholesterol was getting a bit too high) so I’ve only had orange juice, coffee and tea up till now. It’s 12.30 and my poached egg on toast is calling me.

 

Family Quiz with a difference…

Like a lot of families, my side of the family has been meeting every week for a Fzamily Quiz – it gives us the chance to see each other, with the fun structure of a quiz, meaning there’s no awkward silences…

  • There’s my mum & sister in Liverpool
  • my brother, my niece, Rose, her husband David, & their two young sons in Manchester
  • my other niece, her husband David, & their two young children in Malaya
  • my nephew, and his girlfriend , aso in Manchester.
  • my other nephew, his wife & their two young children in Edinburgh
  • and us in France.

2.00 pm our time, 1.00 pm UK time and 8.00 pm Malaya time.

When it started the questions were fairly normal quiz questions…Rose started us off, then Judy & mum, then it was me & Mr FD. We shook it up a bit with an “Only Connect” type of round.

This started a trend then, with some slightly more off-the-wall rounds, which I offer to you as a change, if you’re looking for something a bit different!

Ruth, in Malaya offered us some slightly different rounds, telling us that her Year 7s managed them easily – her rounds included “Kanye or Shakespeare?” (were the quotes from a Kanye West song, or from Shakespeare?) and some of the 26 L in the A type questions.

Conor in Manchester then started the “Question Master’s hat” – wearung a very splendid Jester-y top hat – and asked some tricky questions, along the lines of “designed to be able to be kept in the fridge for a year, what is a Cosmic Crisp? (a type of apple) and what is a “Pink Fairy” a type of? (armadillo) He also had a round of “Which is longer/bigger/heavier…?” such as “Which is bigger: the height of Michael Phelps or a cell of DNA stretched out?” (Actually not a good example as there was some -ahem – “discussion” about this…)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(They look the same to me!!)

 

Today’s was the most diverse though, led by Kieran, a primary school teacher, in Edinburgh. His QMHat was a child’s fireman Sam hat!

Round 1 was “Lip reading” where his microphone was muted and he & Louisa said various items from different categories – including Takeaway food!

Round 2 was “Victorian novel or Farrow & Ball paint colour”? (Or “Is it a book…or is it a Look?” as Kieran kept asking!) This included “Dead Salmon”, “Villette” and “Nancy’s Blushes” (look, book, look)

Round 3 was Name this Flower, where he sent photos to the Family WhatsApp group to identify the flower.

Then Round 4 was the most riotous as it was First Back to the Screen with this Item… Conor, living in a small flat, was at an advantage here and was crowned the winner. The things we had to find included ” a mouthful of milk”, “a handful of dirt”, “something alive” (this would be the only week we hadn’t been joined by a cat!), “something that smells bad” (our cat litter tray was just pipped to the post by a recently changed nappy!!) and “a vegetable” Mr FD was my runner for this & he was relieved he could get everything without running upstairs, but even so, we only got 1 point!

It has been fun, and I have actually seen more of my family than I would do usually…I wonder if it will carry on after we have gone back to “normal” Probably not. It does get in the way of Mr FD’s cycling, as he likes to go out about 1.00/ 1.30 and I’m sure the Young Things will have other more exciting events (like football matches!) to go to, but for now it is a pleasant hour’s interlude, that has started to provide us with quite a few amusing incidents!

We’re thinking of having a round of song lyrics translated into a foreign language and then retranslated back…

  • We’ll meet again, well, I’ll know for a while.
  • Remember to call you a heart, and then you can start to make it better.
  • Admirable elegance, a good sound
  • Oh, oh, all faithful to you.

These were from English, to Latvian, to Mandarin & back again. Not great examples, but this has possibilities I think!

(Answers: We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when/ Remember to let her into your heart, then you can start to make it better/ Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound…/ Oh come all ye faithful…)

Alternatively, well known Shakespeare quotations might work:

  • Whether it’s home or not, it’s a problem.
  • Shred Sp. Pilksta
  • Not everything is a golden one.
  • And the winter i can’t get home
  • The light on the window will break.
  • I’m going to be okay, because I want to.
  • All the world stage, and all men and women have only balls:
  • Put the cambridge, I see it in front of me, take care of my hand
  • Of course, love never runs smoothly.
  • What about you, Brut?
  • If you pierce me, I’ll bleed?

 

I like some of these…can you guess what they are?

I’ll tell you tomorrow!

Dance a happy dance!!

This happens every year – there’s an organisation that collects data from self employed teachers. Who knows why? And I hate completing the form – partly because, although I have the spreadsheets in place, I neglect to fill them in every month, so every year I have to trawl through back documents to find the relevant information…

This year was worse because the email address I had been using was no longer “live” and I couldn’t find any way of changing it. I had contacted a “helpdesk” who told me to go to the Home page, and click on “Create my account”…Except when I went to what I assume was the home page they were talking about there was no “Create my account” button.

After about an hour of pointlessly clicking on various buttons and getting nowhere, I decided to get into the account using the old email address and password (which, thankfully, I had saved in a file!) Success!! I found that I didn’t have to go through creating new accounts, I could just modify the information once I got in there.

So the form was completed in about half an hour (after 2 hours of collecting the information!). And I can forget about it for another year!

But maybe this year I’ll fill in my spreadsheets to make it even easier!!

It would be nice if our 4 earned their keep this way!!

Rescue Mission!!

A couple of weeks ago, a colleague posted an urgent message on our Language school WhatsApp group, asking if anyone knew of anyone who wanted to adopt a kitten – due to be drowned by its heartless owner that day.

Mobilisation: Operation Kitten Rescue .

Immediately a flurry of messages – Simona had a friend who wanted a kitten. She’d contact her immediately. I put a message on our Church WhatsApp group – someone thought their friend might be interested. Others sympathised and said how terrible that the kitten might be killed. I then posted on FaceBook too.

A friend in Roanne (which is where the kitten was living what could have been its last day) messaged me – did I have photos? So I went back to WhatsApp to ask if there were any… The only one available was a rather unclear one of the little black mite, with his already adopted (by my colleague’s sister-in-law) sister.

Meanwhile my phone was pinging with messages from Simona, saying that her friend had already adopted one, from my colleague keeping us updated on other lines of enquiry, from Church people saying it was terrible… Then my friend asked if she could contact the person with the kitten. We didn’t have the number, but here was the number of the sister in law.

The next thing I knew I had a FaceBook message

  • ça y est;
  • on garde
  • on adopte
  • merci
  • thank you very much

YAY! The kitten is saved!!

Beyhan, my friend, keeps an “English Bakery” called Shakespeare’s in the centre of Roanne. A few days later she posted this photo,

with the comment :

Notre futur bébé d’amour Othello avec sa maman et sa petite sœur 😻😻😻 Hâte de lui visiter la semaine prochaine ❤❤❤ (Our future love baby Othello with his mom and little sister. Can’t wait to visit him next week)

I love the name Othello for this little all black sweetheart!

Iremembered that I wanted to write a post about this when I was outside the vets today. We were waiting in a queue to go in: one rather hefty, macho man waiting for his wife who was inside with a Polish sheepdog (like Sophie )and there was another big bloke there with his 20 year old cat, and me. The two mean were talking about how they knew someone who had drowned the 4 puppies of his female dog, in front of her eyes. I felt quite disgusted, but rather assumed that these guys would have taken it as normal – which, unfortunately, is often the case here in France – but no. One of them said something along the lines of “That makes me sick”, and the other said “When people do that it makes me want to – (rude gesture) them! You don’t have pets to do that to them!”

These two tough guys were as loving to their animals as I am. I felt suitably chastened about my preconceptions – but still terribly sad for the mother dog.

   ***However we can be happy that the little black kitten, Othello, has been saved, and will be going to a loving home in July, when he is big ebough to leave his mama.

 

We’re free!!!

…except, of course, we’re not really!

Things have relaxed a little bit now – we can go up to 100 km away from our homes – but not into a different department. So even if I wanted to, I don’t think I could go to work, because Clermont is in a different departement. We don’t need to take our attestation with us if we go out for a walk. Mr FD is happy because he can cycle now, and we can go to shops that are further afield. We have masks, issued by the Mairie, to wear on public transport, and if shops demand it. My language schools are open for business.

BUT

I’m not going anywhere!

My students have agreed that they’re not going anywhere.

Having seen a rise in deaths & infections in Germany, where they are much more organised and in a better state than France, I’m not taking any risks. I’m still teaching from home, not going out except to shop, and continuing to disinfect stuff that comes into the house.

I saw Mr Johnson on TV in the UK. Good grief! Talk about confusing.

The information given in France wasn’t very clear, but at least we’ve got some sort of advice, which is better than the rather confused speech given by the PM of the UK, which the three leaders of Scotland, Wales and N Ireland all disagreed with.

 

Good luck with that.

 

Chaos! But fun

We’ve just had a chaotic but enjoyable Family Quiz via a Zoom-type app. With us in France, my niece & family in Malaysia, mum & my sister in Liverpool, a nephew in Manchester, and my brother and his daughter and her family in another bit of Manchester, it seemed 2 pm our time was the most suitable time. The chaos side came when you add a 3 year old “helping” the question setter, and demanding oranges and crisps, plus a baby plus another young one elsewhere, and then a screen that froze and meant that Mum & Judy couldn’t speak!! With five screens all speaking at once, plus Judy & Mum typing into the “chat” function,  you can imagine the confusion…!!

But it was fun, and my brother won by 1.5 points. Mr FD’s pride was wounded by that, so he aims to win next time!!

Actually next time may well be more chaotic as we add another nephew and his family to the mix. They’re in Edinburgh, but couldn’t join in as they had to tale Rosa (the oldest) to the doctor’s. Apparently, if there are any questions on “Pokemon or being grumpy” Rosa will be a great asset to the team!!

We’re doing a “show and tell” with Mr FD’s family tomorrow – show something from a holiday or a special place and talk about it! I still haven’t decided what I’m showing, but I think it might be a little pot that I painted at a Medieval fair in 1992. We stayed in a village called Montferrat, from 15-29th August (I only know that because it’s painted on the pot!) but I think the fete was at a place called Brignoles.

That’s how we’re spending the weekend!